Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2022

Abstract

This collection is comprised of postcards that are connected to the Nazi Party in Germany. The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945 that created and supported the ideology of Nazism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920. The Nazi Party emerged from the extremist German nationalist, racist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post–World War I Germany. The party was created to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti–big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalistrhetoric. This was later downplayed to gain the support of business leaders, and in the 1930s the party's main focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes. Following the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Hitler established a Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda headed by Joseph Goebbels. The Ministry's aim was to ensure that the Nazi message was successfully communicated through art, music, theater, films, books, radio, educational materials, and the press. Postcards were an extension of the propaganda department to boost morale, glorify their military and political heroes, and commemorate special events and anniversaries. Postcards were easier to disseminate than posters and political cartoons and the Nazi government saw in postcards a way to use visual imagery that could express opinions and rally citizens around common causes inexpensively and effectively.

Postcards were printed and sold throughout Germany and German-occupied territories. The postcards offered an affordable way to stay in contact with family and friends in an era before wide access to mass communication, and this common form of communication became interwoven with images of Hitler and party symbols. The postcards show the massive popularity that Hitler enjoyed in Germany during this era. Nazi propaganda often used Hitler's image, building a myth of his supposed invincibility and charisma. The leader became associated with the nation's prosperity and was portrayed as central to its future success. Hitler's images cast him as a hero, a father figure, and a protector of Germany—and they appeared almost everywhere in Germany during the years of Nazi rule. By late 1943 the printing of postcards stopped due to extreme material shortages from the war. (USHMM)

Comments

Studies have identified three distinct categories of postcards created during the Third Reich. The “Official Issue” were available at all post offices or at special counters at exhibitions. They are the most common and the postage stamps are imprinted. Cards with a double border and separate stamp indicates “Official Postal Stationery” with imprinted stamp. The “Printed to Private Order” postcards were produced to commemorate special events and the postage stamp is also imprinted. Cards without the double border, but with separately illustrated stamp indicate “Printed to Private Order” postcards with imprinted stamps. The third category is that of “propaganda” postcards. These are the most colorful and generally political in nature. They required a postage stamp. (Roger James Bender)

When entering the postcards into the finding aid, it was noted whether the postcards were used or unused. If the postcard was used it was further clarified by whether it was 1) used with writing, 2) used with just stamp attached, or 3) used with stamp attached and postmarked. It was also noted if the postcard was printed in color or not. Each postcard was photographed (back of postcard was also photographed if stamp affixed and/or postmarked). An attempt was made to translate printed parts of the postcards and translations were included in the finding aid. Many of the used postcards with handwritten messages could not be transcribed.

It should be noted that as extensive as our search was to try and properly identify each postcard, we realize mistakes are possible and would welcome contact from collectors and scholars in the field.

Images of postcards are available through the link below.

VIEW IMAGES HERE

Worcester

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